Who Are PTs and How Do They Help Manage Pain?

October is National Physical Therapy Month. We celebrate by providing educational articles and tools to help others understand the profession and the benefits of therapy. Please joins us this month in recognizing physical therapy as well as some of our very own team members. Below is an article from APTA’s MoveForwardPT.com

Who are Physical Therapists?

Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very old, who have medical problems or other health related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide selective physical therapy interventions under the direction and supervision of physical therapists.


What Physical Therapists Do

PTs examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Under the direction and supervision of the PT, PTAs provide selective physical therapy interventions based on the developed plan of care.


Where Physical Therapists Practice

PTs and PTAs provide care for people in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics; inpatient rehabilitation facilities; skilled nursing, home health; extended care, or subacute facilities; education or research centers; schools; hospices; industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments; and fitness centers and sports training facilities.


How Physical Therapists Manage Pain

As America combats a devastating opioid epidemic, safer, non-opioid treatments have never been of greater need.

Physical therapy is among the safe, effective alternatives recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in guidelines urging the avoidance of opioids for most pain treatment.

Whereas opioids only mask the sensation of pain, physical therapists treat pain through movement.

Here’s how:

1. Exercise. A study following 20,000 people over 11 years found that those who exercised on a regular basis, experienced less pain. And among those who exercised more than 3 times per week, chronic widespread pain was 28% less common1. Physical therapists can prescribe exercise specific to your goals and needs.

2. Manual Therapy. Research supports a hands-on approach to treating pain. From carpal tunnel syndrome2 to low back pain3, this type of care can effectively reduce your pain and improve your movement. Physical therapists may use manipulation, joint and soft tissue mobilizations, and dry needling, as well as other strategies in your care.

3. Education. A large study conducted with military personnel4 demonstrated that those with back pain who received a 45 minute educational session about pain, were less likely to seek treatment than their peers who didn’t receive education about pain. Physical therapists will talk with you to make sure they understand your pain history, and help set realistic expectations about your treatment.

4. Teamwork. Recent studies have shown that developing a positive relationship with your physical therapist and being an active participant in your own recovery can impact your success. This is likely because physical therapists are able to directly work with you and assess how your pain responds to treatment.

Read more about Pain and Chronic Pain Syndromes.

The American Physical Therapy Association launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the safe alternative of physical therapy for long-term pain management. Learn more at our #ChoosePTpage.

For more information on Therapy Center’s diverse settings where you or a loved one can receive physical therapy services, visit Our Services page.


Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to see highlights on our very own team members, patient success stories and more!


This blog was taken from the following article, posted on APTA. Please click to read the original article.



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